Near Kyiv, a mother buries her son, tortured, then killed

Near Kyïv, a mother buries her son, tortured, then killed


Just as missiles have just struck Kyiv again, Tetyana Telyjenko finishes burying her son, tortured and killed according to her in March by the Russian army in Boutcha, a town in the Ukrainian capital that has become a symbol Russian atrocities. 

A few weeks ago, the body of Oleksiï, 44, was found in a field, six months after his disappearance during the very first Russian attacks on the outskirts of Kyiv.

This mother has no however not seen again from the body of his son. To protect her psychologically, her granddaughter forbade her.

“She also didn't want me to watch the video of her interrogation” by the Russians, she says before adding: “ She told me that I wouldn't have recognized him.”

In recent days, the Russians have launched massive strikes on several Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, in retaliation for the partial destruction of Russia's Crimean Bridge, which Moscow blames on Kyiv.

The Russian attacks have also targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure, raising fears of long power and water cuts as winter approaches.

Oleksiï was among the fighters who repelled the invader for several weeks in March last.

United Nations investigators claimed in late September that “war crimes” had been committed by the Russian army in the suburbs of Kyiv during their occupation of the area in March. The examples of Boutcha and Irpine are still in everyone's mind.

The circumstances of his death are still unclear

According to Tetyana, his son was probably interrogated by the Russians about his work before the war as an instructor at the academy of the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence services.

At the time of his arrest, he had just enlisted in a defense unit when his relatives lost track of him.

And despite the discovery of his body several days ago, his mother has no idea of ​​the real cause of his death. Only a DNA test could identify him, his body being too degraded.

“It must have been so difficult for him,” she whispers. Before adding: “He had never killed anyone in his life”.

The conclusions of the UN international investigation had enabled some inhabitants of the region to close the dark chapter of the first weeks of the war.

Reconstruction work is indeed underway in the suburbs of Kyiv and many families, who left in the very first days of the fighting, are now back.

But the change in strategy of the troops in Moscow in recent days, ready again to strike at the four corners of Ukrainian territory, brought the reality of war back to Kyiv.

The city's power grid still holds and cars swarm the streets at lunchtime. But some stores have again installed protections on their windows, to prevent shards of glass in the event of an explosion. Like a sense of déjà vu.

In the Boutcha cemetery, Andriï Tchernyak, the rector of the SBU academy in which Oleksiï worked assures: “We are very grateful to our international partners for their help”. “But everyone has to understand that this is not a fight for Ukraine. It's a fight for democracy and peace,” he says.

Broken friendships

Nearby, Tetyana says she only feels hatred and pain.

Before the war, his life was intimately linked to those of his Russian friends, who live on the other side of the border. She herself speaks Russian on a daily basis.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade his neighbor swept away everything.

If the Kremlin thought it was winning the heart Ukrainians by sending troops there, it had the opposite effect on her.

“I have a lot of friends in Russia. But now I don't know if I should consider them friends anymore,” she blurted out a few moments after her son's funeral.

“They keep writing to me saying: 'We we are not responsible for what happens”. But I can't get used to it. If they support this regime, then I just hate them”.